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[Detail] Woody Guthrie


Guthrie's use of dialect, humor, and rhythm make some of his prose especially suited to storytelling. Select one of Guthrie's compositions, such as his autobiographical essay, Vote for Bloat, or The Railroad Cricket, which was written for the radio, and read it aloud to an audience. Use the following questions to analyze the composition and prepare your reading of it.

  • What kind of a persona does Guthrie create in this piece and how? What is your reaction to this persona?
  • In a letter about songwriting, Guthrie says that any good song must create sadness and laughter "to make it take a hold and last." How does Guthrie create sadness and laughter in the writing you've selected? How can you bring this sadness and laughter across through your storytelling?
  • What is the rhythm of the piece? How does Guthrie create this rhythm? What does the rhythm add to the impact of the piece?
  • What message or ideas do you think Guthrie was trying to communicate in this piece? What techniques does he use to communicate these things most effectively?
  • What are the similarities between Guthrie's prose writing and his songwriting?
  • What do the Library of Congress's recordings of Guthrie reveal about the relationship between Guthrie's songs and stories?